Checkpoint 91


(Sept. 1978)

Harry Bell cartoon

Checkpoint 91 is produced by Peter Roberts, 38 Oakland Dr, Dawlish, Devon, UK. It's available for news, selected trades, interesting letters, fine old fanzines (send list first), or cash: 5/50p (UK & Europe), 4/$1 (America & Africa airmail) or 6/£1 (Australia & NZ airmail). Please pay in sterling, dollar bills, or international reply coupons (one = 10½p); no foreign cheques, please. Cartoon by Harry Bell. Restormel Press Publication: 134.

NORMAN WEEDALL DEAD: (Eric Bentcliffe) "It's a truism that a fanzine is an ephemeral thing; and, unfortunately, so is a fan: particularly if he was a fan who didn't get involved in fanzine publishing, feuding, or one-upmanship. A friend of mine, Norman Weedall, just died and he was one such. He didn't write for fanzines, he was always pleasant and didn't get involved in fan-feuds, he loved to discuss science fiction and fandom, but never put anyone down.

"It's only now when I come to write this that I realize I don't know how old Norman was. It never seemed to matter, to me or to his other friends. He'd been around for a long time, quietly. He was a founder member of the British Interplanetary Society in the thirties, and later of the Nor'West Sf Club, and the Liverpool Group. He was the official St Fantony Executioner. He was a maker of fine home-brew which contributed to many a convention-goer's glow, and to the LiG Wine Cellar. He was working on an sf novel at the time he died, and had been for some time. He played "Superfan" in one of those fine, funny, and fannish Liverpool movies.

"Bare facts – which don't reveal the pleasure that those who knew him got from doing so. We'll miss him." (EB)

FAAN AWARDS: (results taken from the newszine, DNQ)

Best Single Issue: Maya 14
Best Fan Editor: Rob Jackson
Best Fan Writer: Bob Shaw

Best Artist (Serious): Jim Shull
Best Artist (Humorous): Alexis Gilliland
Best LoC Writer: Mike Glicksohn

The most interesting item in DNQ, to me at least, is the additional news that I have been voted on to the FAAn Awards' committee. This is fascinating, since no one has yet officially told me that I was standing (I never expressed any interest in doing so – the first I knew was when I saw my name on a ballot), nor has anyone officially told me that my nomination has succeeded. This seems a strange method – to put it mildly – of selecting committee members.

Well, ok, I don't mind being on the committee; but I do want to suggest some fairly radical changes to the FAAn Awards before they get my support. The main thing, as far as I'm concerned, is to get rid of the $1(50p) voting-fee. Maybe I'm mean, but I don't see why I should pay good money for the privilege of giving someone else a little egoboo – it ought to be sufficient that I'm willing to fill in the FAAn ballots and find a stamp to send them in to the administrator.

The money collected from the present voting fees presumably goes on administration and on the physical awards themselves. Ok then. Let's get rid of the actual awards for a start. If people have to have an object to remind themselves of the fact that they've won a fan poll, then a scroll should be sufficient. But I really can't see that anything is needed – good grief, the egoboo should suffice if the FAAn Awards are worth anything at all. As for administration costs (which ought not to be anything more than the production of ballots), they could be covered by money raised at small auctions and the like. That responsibility could rest with the committee members, all nine of them – I've a bundle of duplicate fanzines I'm willing to sell off for a start.

The Checkpoint fan poll obviously isn't in the same league; but it works well enough without any great trouble or expense and, as far as I can see, the people who top the poll are well content with the egoboo alone. The FAAn Awards could work in exactly the same way. Perhaps then some people from Britain, including myself, might actually find the time to fill in a ballot and vote next year.

THINGS FOR SALE: Rosemary Pardoe (Flat 2, 38 Sandown Lane, Liverpool 15) has published a Guide To Current Fantasy Fanzines & Semi – Prozines. It's in much the same format as my own guide and gives a pretty thorough listing of fantasy material; the price is 25p or 3 international reply coupons. // Naturally enough this reminds me that there are still copies available of my Guide To Current Fanzines (5th ed, 1978), containing an introduction to fanzines plus an address listing, &c, for some 150 or more fanzines from around the world. The reduced fan price is 35p (80¢) – if you send a $1 bill, I'll use the extra 20¢ on sending you a Checkpoint or something. // British Fanzine Bibliography vols 1 (1936-50) and II (1951-60) are also available at 70p($1.50) the pair – from me. // Brian Earl Brown (16711 Burt Rd (Apt 207), Detroit, MI 488219, USA) wants me to mention the Derek Carter Alphabet, consisting of some 26 illos + cover by Derek and sold in aid of DUFF & TAFF. Price is $1 in person, $1.46 by post, and $1.82 by post overseas. // Finally, there are still a few copies of Egg available from me: latest issue (11) with the first part of the 1977 TAFF report is 50p ($1) with money (less post) going to TAFF. Most back issues have gone, but there are still a few copies of 2,4,9, & 10 left at 30p (2 for $1). Checkpoint, the mercenary newszine...

SILICON 3: (Grosvenor Hotel, Newcastle, 25th-28th August – Dave Langford reports)

"In a year when Novacon appears more expensive than the Eastercon (pretty pricey in itself) it was a relief to relax in Gannetland, where double rooms cost a legendary £9.50 per night. The hotel staff displayed outmoded virtues such as wishing to please, and friction was negligible: the manager wasn't wholly happy about certain traces of inner upheavals which he found here and there, but fortunately for the committee Martin Hoare appointed himself their representative and bore the brunt of the reproof. Also deplored were the balloons and Roy Kettle's theory that people could be stunned by them if only enough force were applied. The drinks were cheap; the bar stayed open until everyone was too tired for room parties. There was a programme, strange to say: a panel in which the panel did not speak much but the audience said a lot, especially on those good old fannish topics Isaac Asimov's Sf Magazine and the BSFA; a good film (Monty Python & The Holy Grail) and an awful film (The Deadly Mantis!); charades whose participants had to act not only books but fans – Rog Peyton's Hitleresque version of Peter Weston outshone all others (even including attempts at the surly Pickersgill Slouch, and the Limp Wrist which was misidentified as Malcolm Edwards while the real Joe Nicholas happened to be absent). Sunday had football, as exciting and fannish as football can be (ie, not very), followed by experiments in rocketry conducted by Andy Firth, none of whose devices was so basely materialistic as to fly; a quiz of which I recall nothing but the hideous trauma of standing before an audience, ear glued to a tape-recorder, trying to identify sf writers' voices; and eventually a disco where Rog Peyton and Helen Eling performed so dazzlingly that no one else thought it worth joining in. An impromptu Drunken Writers' Workshop composed that searing epic Gonad The Barbarian which you may now purchase in aid of GUFF.

"Silicon was a fine, drunken, chaotic, and totally fannish event, yet not ruled by the sinister cliques suspected by last year's skeletons at the feast, the Norwich Sf Group: at Silicon the hitherto obscure John Collick and Steev Higgins were plunged into the fannish mainstream and, far from protesting this infringement of their precious serconity, appeared to like it. Made euphoric by this vindication of fandom's eternal truth, Simone Walsh was heard to say: "There's hope for Ian Garbutt." " (DL)

DANCON 78: (Klaus Johansen) "The first con in Denmark to be held outside Copenhagen, Dancon 78 in Odense (Aug 1978) was a success since we managed to draw a crowd of 80 attendees, including a dozen Swedes. GoH was Harry Harrison who has a special relationship to the country since he and his wife Joan lived here from 1959 to 1966. Also present were Swedish writer Sam Lundwall and the following Danish writers: Fritz Remur, Arne Herler Petersen, Erwin Neutzsky-Wulff, Herlut Flensborg, Tage Eskestad, and Merete Kruuse.

"Taken as a whole, everything went smoothly and already on the first day people decided that this particular con was a relaxcon. Everyone had plenty of time to walk around and meet old friends and enemies, drink beer, buy books, see a film or two, and so on. We sure hope to repeat it all again next year – same time, same place." (KJ)

HUGO WINNERS: (taken from The Pullsheet 4, the Iguanacon daily newsletter – thanks to John Millard for sending on a copy)

Novel: Gateway (Fred Pohl)
Novella: "Stardance" (Spider & Jeanne Robinson)
Novelette: "Eyes Of Amber" (Joan Vinge)
Short Story: "Jeffty is Five" (Harlan Ellison)
Drama: Star Wars

Pro Artist: Rick Sternbach
Pro Editor: George Scithers
Fanzine: Locus
Fan Writer: Dick Geis
Fan Artist: Phil Foglio

John Millard tells me that total Iguanacon membership was 6,900, with 4,215 attending (1500 of which were one-day or walk-in registrations). The con seems to have been ok – look for huge reports in the US newszines.

NOREASCON II: Boston won the balloting for the 1980 Worldcon; the results were not made public, but Baltimore conceded defeat. George Flynn, Boston Secretary, tells me that current (Sept) membership is 1162. The con itself will be held at the Sheraton-Boston Hotel, Aug 29th-Sept 1st, 1980. GoH is Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm, Fan GoH is Bruce Pelz. Supporting membership is $8.00; attending membership rises as the con approaches, but $15 will pay for it till the end of this year. The address is: Noreascon II, PO Box 46, MIT Branch Post Office, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. Progress Report Zero, an information sheet, is already available. The UK Agent is Andrew Stephenson (19 Du Pre Walk, Woburn Green, High Wycombe, Bucks, HP10 0QJ) – Andrew has sent a note asking would-be members to hold off till the end of October or so, by which time he should have received the necessary literature and forms from the States. He doesn't give a sterling price, but I imagine £4 ought to be ok for a supporting membership.

WEIRD TALES (ASSORTED): There's a Fantasy Film Convention on October 28th-29th, so Gerry Webb tells me: the venue is the Bloomsbury Centre Hotel in London, the price is £5.50, and the address for information is: 52 Roy Dene Rd, Plumstead, London SE18. Kevin Smith thinks I should plug a new sf bookshop in Soho: "Forbidden Planet" is the name of the place (23 Denmark St, London WC2) and Kevin reckons that the prices seem "reasonable" – hit him if they're not, laud his name if they are.

* A letter from the STAR WARS CORPORATION impressed my postman no end. Additionally the letter tells me that the NATIONAL STAR WARS ASSOCIATION is thoroughly unauthorized and all of you who were rushing to book for the New York Star Wars convention in December should think again, since the people running it don't have permission to do anything much at all. The letter also tells me to "be prepared to receive some very good news", so I'm all excited and have already told my bank manager that the Force will be with me soon. Keep your fingers crossed, wookies.

* Perry Chapdelaine has sent me a bit of A.E.van Vogt's The Battle Of Forever, a sampler of the first book published by the Authors' Co-op. It should be available through the usual importers. He also mentions that George Hay, no less, is to edit The John W.Campbell Letters. George, needless to say, would like to see some letters by (or to) the said Campbell – if you've anything of interest (and royalty payments will be made on used letters) send them straight to George (38b Compton Rd, London N21 3NX) or to the Co-op (Rt 4, Box 137, Franklin, TN 37064, USA).

* Starblaze, Polly & Kelly Freas's new publishing house, deserves a mention, since they've inundated me with publicity circulars – three identical ones arrived on one day. Write to Starblaze (253 W.Bute St, Norfolk, VA 23510, USA) for details of the first set of books designed & illustrated by Freas & Co.

CHECKPOINT SFa supplement of book reviews

The Ophiuchi Hotline – John Varley (Dell, $1.50)

The Ophiuchi Hotline is a hodge-podge of ideas – multiple cloning of the protagonist, occupation of earth by super-aliens, artificial environments on solar planets, whimsical body surgery, nomadic culture-trading aliens, human-plant symbiotic beings, revelations of a universal hierarchy, black-hole power-stations, and God knows what else, all tied together in a complex thriller plot. Amazingly, despite all this, The Ophiuchi Hotline is a thoroughly dull novel: complexities of plot and new sf ideas are thrown in rapidly to stoke up the narrative, but it's distracting – you just end up watching the shovel to see if there's anything interesting amongst the coal. Phil Dick can invent a trivial kitchen gadget that's more fascinating, says more about his characters and background, and is more germane to his narrative and the whole feel of a novel, than any of John Varley's grand sf concepts in The Ophiuchi Hotline. David Gerrold, according to the blurb, says that the novel is "equal to the best of Niven and Clarke" a viciously backhanded compliment that's pretty near the truth. Anything could happen in this book, the possibilities are there and it could take off at any moment. But it never does. The Ophiuchi Hotline is cold and lifeless.

In The Ocean Of Night – Greg Benford (Dell, $1.95)

I picked this novel up to review it and couldn't remember a thing about it, except the fact that I read it last week. I've flicked through it to stir my memory and, yes, actually it's not at all bad. But it is thoroughly unexceptional.

In The Ocean Of Night is an alien-contact story, the emphasis being on the effect that this contact has on the protagonist – an Englishman who Does The Right Thing and comes to a New Realization Of Self, &c. It's introverted for an sf novel, and actually Greg Benford is least convincing when handling the sf side of things. The aliens, for example, aren't very alien, which isn't very good going for aliens, and there's a gratuitous appearance by a tribe of Bigfoot that's about as fascinating and well-handled as a chapter out of von Däniken. In The Ocean Of Night is competently written for the most part, and so on – but it's not stirred the brain or, I'm afraid, widened any of my horizons.

Stolen Faces – Michael Bishop (Dell, $1.50)

Another novel of self-realization, this time by an administrator of a leper colony on a frontier planet. It's quite well written, the sf elements serving only as a useful background; but again it's lightweight – there's nothing in the book that'll cause the reader to marvel or to meditate. Unlike John Varley's hodge-podge or Greg Benford's meanderings, Michael Bishop's Stolen Faces runs a fairly straight course, and of these three novels (all by authors new to me) this is the one I prefer. But the last line of the novel, contained in an epilogue, runs: "... other problems had arisen to occupy people's hearts and minds," and that sentiment must be true of the readership too.

A Wreath Of Stars – Bob Shaw (Pan, 70p)(Dell, $1.50)

An alien-contact story, in which an aethereal anti-neutrino world is discovered within the earth itself. As with other Bob Shaw novels, though adequately written, nothing of great interest occurs: a bunch of rather non-descript characters react to the situation at hand, and that's about it. Considering the momentous nature of the discovery (both as a scientific fact and in terms of reality, the spirit world, and our interrelationship with that other world), nobody seems unduly perturbed – not even the reader. Disappointing.

(The Dell edition has some pathetically wretched illustrations by Rick Sternbach – no bonus at all, I'm afraid.)

The Zap Gun – Phil Dick (Dell, $1.75)

A Phil Dick novel is always a pleasure to read and this is no exception, though The Zap Gun is not among the best of his works. Its major fault is that the narrative is weak and in fact just about packs up and collapses halfway through the book. Nonetheless, the novel is sustained by several dozen splendid ideas, nearly all of them foolish and bizarre, plus a tangle of ridiculous situations, unlikely revelations, strange characters, and a wealth of black humour. It's a novel of the absurd, as are all of Dick's, and full of good things.


The Cold Cash War (Robert Asprin, Dell, $1.50): feeble satire about big corporations fighting wars, with a cast of many, none of whom can be remembered from one chapter to the next. I gave up halfway through – the novel contains nothing of interest: even the satire is witless.

Keepers Of The Gate (Steven Spruill, Dell, $1.50): gave up on the machine-written hacking after the first page. No sign of life later on. No hope.

Gordon R.Dickson's Sf Best (Dell, $1.75): a selection of short stories (1955-66). The first concerns a man who hijacks a spaceship. He succeeds. That's it. There's nothing more to it. The second concerns a mission to enforce cooperation between two alien life-forms (neither, apparently, in the slightest bit alien – cardboard human beings in animal skins). It succeeds. That's it. &c. The third, though I never got that far, probably concerns a man on another planet trying to make a cup of tea – he succeeds, &c, &c. Moronic.

The Fenris Device (Brian Stableford, Pan, 60p): "I'm a spaceman. I like space. I like flying space..." Thus the start of the novel, I kid you not. Abysmal.

Swan Song (Brian Stableford, Pan, 60p): companion novel to the above. Enough said, I think.

Sun Stop 8 (Lou Fisher, Dell, $1.50): "He's a rambler, he's a gambler, he's Chet McCoy, a hard-loving, two-fisted..." &c, &c. Illustrations by Stu Shiffman – good for you, Stu! (Though, dare I say it, they look rather amateurish in the context of a paperback – not that that readers of Sun Stop 8 will notice).

As On A Darkling Plain (Ben Bova, Dell, $1.75): machine-written hacking. Wasn't Ben Bova the editor of Analog? Isn't an ability to write adequately a qualification for such a job? Well, so it goes. Surprising.

Renegade Of Callisto (Lin Carter, Dell, $1.50): good grief.

Ylana Of Callisto (Lin Carter, Dell, $1.50): enough, enough – I surrender!

Books for review to: Peter Roberts, 38 Oakland Drive, Dawlish, Devon, UK.

TAFF FANZINE SALE: Most of the stuff listed last time was sold, so here's another bunch; all proceeds (less postage) will go to TAFF, the Transatlantic Fan Fund. First come, first served, and cash with order please (cheques payable to me, not TAFF – no foreign cheques). If the fanzines you want are already sold, money can be returned, held over for future sales, or whatever.

*Zimri 2,3,6,7, & 4-4 1/2-5 (Lisa Conesa – 1972/5): large UK genzine, attractively produced with material by Aldiss, Holdstock, Turner, &c. – 35p(75¢) each and 90p($2) for 4-5 (bound together).

*Triode 19-20-21 (Eric Bentcliffe & Terry Jeeves – 1974/5): UK genzine with amazing handcut art by Cawthorn and s&s parody by Moorcock. Bound together – 85p($1.90).

Orion 16,17,29 (Paul Enever & Ella Parker – 1956/61): London genzine with plenty of Atom illos – 30p(65¢) each.

Orbit 3 (George Gibson – 1954): Leeds Sf Assoc. genzine – 25p(60¢).

STF Trends 10,11,12,13,14 (Lynn Hickman – 1953/4): US genzine, 11 & 12 contain Harlan Ellison fan fiction – 20p(50¢) each.

Con Programmes 1959,1962 (UK Eastercon): attractively produced, covers by Eddie Jones – 30p(65¢) each.

True Rat 4/5 (Roy Kettle – 1974): indescribable – 20p(50¢).

Zenith 1 (new series) (Harry Turner – 1953): very attractive genzine – 50p($1).

*Blunt 1-2 (Rowe & Smiths – 1973): eclectic genzine – bound together – 60p($1.25)

Loncon 53 (Vin¢ Clarke, Slater, & others): single-sheet oneshot – 5p(10¢).

*Magic Pudding 1 (Malcolm Edwards – 1973.): fine personalzine – 15p(35¢).Icarus 5 (Dave Wood – 1963): genzine – 20p(50¢).

*Thanks to Archie Mercer for these issues.

GUFF: Dave Langford (22 Northumberland Aye, Reading, Berks, RG2 7PW) is actively attempting to secure money for GUFF, the fund to bring an Australian fan over to Seacon 79. Apart from the usual methods of blackmail, threatened violence, and hints of another Eastercon at Heathrow, Dave has also employed the duplicator as a means of funding GUFF. Gonad The Barbarian (Part II) (@ 50p or $1), a Silicon one-shot, and Up The Conjunction (also 50p or $1), a signed article by Bob Shaw, taken from Drilkjis, have already been published. Send money if you want to stay on the good side of Mr Langford (should such a position exist). A newsletter, The Northern Guffblower, is also available. End of advert.

CoAs: Joe Wesson, 5818 4th St, Detroit, MI 48202, USA
Merf Adamson, 3 Spring Tce, North Shields, Tyne & Wear, NE29 OHQ
Kevin Smith, 7 Fassett Rd, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
John Piggott, 32 Munsterburg Rd, Canvey Island, Essex
John Kerr, 1 Dales Aye, Whitefield, Manchester, M25 6NV
Roy Kettle, 56 Faulkland Rd, London N8
Ethel Lindsay, 69 Barry Rd, Carnoustie, Angus, DD7 7Q9, Scotland
Jim Meadows, 600 Jackson (Apt 2), Peoria, IL 61603, USA
Klaus Johansen, Skibhusvej 208, DK-5000 Odense C, Denmark
Roger Sween, 840 Driftwood Dr (Apt 104), St Cloud, MN 56301, USA
Tim Marion, do 113 Deepdale Rd, Strafford, PA 19087, USA

TAFF: A quick reminder that nominations are now open for the 1979 TAFF race to bring an American fan over to the Brighton Seacon. Anyone standing must provide three American and two European fans as nominators, a $5(£2.50) bond, and a written undertaking to attend the Seacon if elected. Nominations to me or Roy Tackett.

CONKER: Here's a splendid little box, telling you all you need to know [_____] about your Checkpoint status. A number indicates the last issue you'll receive according to present records; a cross means that this is that same last issue right here and now. Anything else in the box probably isn't very relevant; a blank box isn't very helpful, but probably means that I don't know what's happening but you're safe for the moment. Possibly. All clear? The Dawlish address continues to function for the moment – next CP will appear when it does.

WEIRD FANNISH TALES: The Walter Gillings Travel Fund is a project of First Fandom designed to bring Wally Gillings to America in 1980, the 50th anniversary of his involvement in sf (he organized the Ilford Science Literary Circle in 1930). Contributions gratefully received John Millard, 18-86 Broadway Aye, Toronto, Ont., Canada, M4P 1T4 (cheques/money orders – no cash through post).

* The Sheffield Sf Group was formed this summer, say Terry Jeeves & Paul Crofts. Meetings are held on the last Wednesday of every month at the West Street Hotel in the city centre. Terry Jeeves is Chairman, Dave Bridges is Treasurer, and Pete Hammerton is Secretary. Further details from Pete (485 London Rd, Heeley, Sheffield S2).

* "A charming person and a handsome figure" at Iguanacon? Can that be Roger Sween's description of Malcolm Edwards in the USA? Gosh. Meanwhile Mervyn Barrett says he heard Malcolm on his radio a couple of weeks ago, which can only mean he's charming the ears of New Zealanders too. "Isn't that amazing?" asks Mervyn. Bloody hell, yes. More Malcolm Edwards news (preferably foreign) urgently solicited.

* Meanwhile, boring old ordinary Rob Jackson has lost some Mayas or something equally earth-shattering. Oh yes, here it is: some of the address labels of Maya 15 have fallen off. Good lord! Well, if you should've got a copy, but didn't, tell Rob and he'll send you a new one. Sounds fair enough to me.

* I forgot and Ian Maule neglected to mention that the wonderful Roberts TAFF report will ultimately be published in a single volume, so don't cry too much if you miss individual episodes in various fanzines. The first part is in Egg 11, the second part in Nabu 5, and the third has been sent to Terry Hughes who may or may not publish it in Mota. Relevant photos, incidentally, would be most welcome for one volume, collected TAFF report.

* Sorry if I've missed stuff out of this Checkpoint, but I'm living out of a suitcase and things are even more confused than usual. See you sometime...

Please do not bend!
   or even bow, it's only:



Peter Roberts
38 Oakland Dr

Printed Matter Reduced.